On March 31st, Reading’s Reverb was the very first stop of The Sonic Unrest Pt 2 tour. Featuring Periphery, The Contortionist, Norma Jean and Infinity Shred, it was sure to be a varied bill.

First up was Infinity Shred from New York. Not being familiar with their work and it being largely instrumental, it was rather tough to identify the songs or stay oriented throughout the set. The music was a largely electronic wall of sound featuring guitar and bass that was largely drowned out. While their presence was certainly helping the cause of variety, one could see them being a more seamless fit on a tour with other, similarly atmospheric, less song-oriented bands.

Next up was the almighty Norma Jean. Supporting their latest album Polar Similar was clearly on the agenda as they drew heavily from it, starting things off with “I. The Planet”. Thankfully, that was a good thing as they have been on a real hot streak. Then, they ran through “Everyone Talking Over Everyone Else,” “Synthetic Sun,” “Funeral Singer,” and “If You Got It at Five, You Got It at Fifty.” In fact, if you’re keeping score, the first six tracks were all from their last two albums. Again, this is a good thing as the quality has been high and the current lineup only really has a connection to this recent material due to all of the turnover. The first real nod to their past was playing “The End of All Things Will Be Televised” off of Redeemer. Of course, they ended things with a real oldie, “Memphis Will Be Laid To Waste”. They were by far the heaviest band on the bill and in some ways, stuck out like a sore thumb, but in a fantastic way. Given their status, they probably should have been direct support on this tour but oh well.

Occupying the spot of direct support was The Contortionist. I had recalled seeing them years ago at a show but tonight was a bit of a revamped lineup. Most noticeably, the vocals were a lot stronger this time around thanks to this being my first time seeing Michael Lessard on the mic. Their set almost exclusively consisted of material from their 2014 album Language, starting with “Language 1: Intuition” and “Language 2: Conspire” while ending with “The Parable.” Things only got heavy at brief intervals which was fine but the band seems like they are on an upward trajectory creatively and one has to wonder where the next album will take them.

Finally, our headliners Periphery took their turn, starting the evening off on a not-so-heavy note with “A Black Minute” followed by “Stranger Things”. They then departed from their Juggernaut duo and launched into a huge dose of their latest album Periphery III: Select Difficulty. This included “The Way The News Goes,” “Marigold,” “Remain Indoors,” and “Prayer Position” all in a row. There was some acknowledgment of Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal but the band is clearly the most stoked about their last few offerings. The main set ended with the relatively old “Masamune” while their encore was the final track on their newest album, “Lune.” Frontman Spencer Sotelo was in fine voice and the band was clearly in their element headlining.

With any luck, there will be a Sonic Unrest Part 3 tour that covers as much ground as this one did.

Words by JJ Ellis
Photos by Henry Chung